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Tens Of Thousands Stage Anticorruption Protest In Romania


Demonstrators in Bucharest protesting against moves by the ruling Social Democrats that critics say will weaken the fight against graft.

Tens of thousands of Romanians took to the streets of Bucharest to protest against proposed justice reforms by the ruling Social Democrats (PSD) that opponents say will make it more difficult to prosecute high-level corruption.

There were brief scuffles between protesters and riot police at the January 20 demonstration as the crowd gathered at University Square in the Romanian capital.

The protest came in response to legislation passed in parliament last month that opponents say would weaken the independence of the judiciary, and to fresh proposals to decriminalize some corruption offenses.

A previous PSD-led attempt last year to decriminalize some abuse-of-office crimes triggered the largest protests in Romania since the communist era.

Rankings by Transparency International put Romania among the European Union's most corrupt nations.

The European Commission, foreign diplomats, and thousands of judges have criticized the move by the PSD-led coalition to overhaul the judiciary, saying it will place the court system under political control and weaken the fight against widespread corruption.

That legislation, passed by parliament on December 20, still needs to be signed by President Klaus Iohannis in order to become law. Iohannis, however, has criticized the proposed changes.

Based on reporting by AP, dpa, Reuters, AFP, the Guardian, and The New York Times

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